El Capitan High School’s e-sports program looking to expand

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SAN DIEGO -- The e-sports program at El Capitan High School is looking to expand. In its second year, the program hopes get more student involved by fundraising and providing students with the right gaming devices.

The program is spearheaded by David Eckrich, the junior who founded the program last year. "We knew kids were going to like e-sports -- they like video games. Now I'm like, 'Hey cool: You can earn money by playing video games.' It just becomes more of a way for kids to earn scholarships and pay for college, so that way their parents don't have to pay out of pocket."

Jay Tweet, who has taught at El Capitan High School for 15 years, says he supported David's idea from the start. "It's definitely one of the things that encourages us the most. Maybe our students who are harder to reach are proud to represent their high school in a way, just like a football player is proud to represent their high school," Tweet said.

The program went from 18 student in its first year to 34 students in its second year. Eckrich says the program helps students bring up their grades because of the minimum GPA required to participate. "(There's a) minimum GPA of 2.5 regardless of the game that you play or the grade that you're in," he says.

Games are played on a computer during lunch period or outside of school. Participating students compete in tournaments locally and across the nation.

All members buy their own equipment, spending upwards of nearly $3,000 to play.

Eckrich says he plans to fundraise to buy computers for students who can't afford to play at home.

"That's a lot of money for a high schooler and possibly a family to commit to this. So what I'm trying to do is build a facility, and it's not just a facility -- a room with some computers in it, that way kids who might not afford this stuff at home can come play at school and not feel left out."

Selena Minez, the only girl on the team, says more computers would get more girls involved. "I feel like a lot of girls don't really have computers right now, but they're interested in playing a lot of games that require PCs. So I think if the school can get more PCs for the players, that could get more people."

"Right now they just kind of meet on campus and we discuss strategy and the logistics of playing in the leagues but the actual playing takes place at home and it would be nice to move that to campus, especially for those students who don't have access to a high-powered PC or newest console," Tweet says.

David says the school is $4,500 sort of their goal to buy the necessary computers for the campus.

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